Is The End near?

No, the sky is not falling.

As you know, I don’t care much about writing about other people’s opinions or experiences. There is so many ways to spin things these days, that it doesn’t matter what you say, someone will play a devil’s advocate and say something opposite. Which is fine, I’ve heard them all.

The water is too hot. Brown tide. Pollution. The fish are traveling with bait offshore. NY taxes are way too high for fish to take up residence. The seals are eating all the bass. Kate Upton rack is too large and wholesome. And on and on.

I can only tell you what I see, what I experience. We don’t preach gospel here, I am not going to tell you that you need a Lami and a VS either. Just because some “super sharpie” swears by it. And I am not going to lie to your face and tell you I am catching a shitload of fish because I wrote few books and can’t take the ridicule. It is what it is but it’s not pretty. And I am definitely not catching…

I had an awesome month of May by my standards, with bunch of fish over twenty pounds, all on bucktails. In fact, I am yet to toss or catch a fish on anything other than shad or bucktail this year. Call it personal choice. I am petrified of blowing out my elbow after all that pain last nine months and all that therapy and shots and therapy and more shots..and pain.

And I haven’t really fished anywhere but the stretch between Jones and Fire Island inlet other than a lousy trip to Cutty during some stupid tropical storm that turned water into mud. Somewhere in the mid June the bite shut off locally. Not gradually, it just shut down. We tried this tide and that, this time or that, nothing worked. In addition we just had , what, like 28 days of straight south to southwest wind? Is this crazy or what?

Silver Fox who is deservedly retired and has more time than I tried different thing, chunking in the darkest of night, jetty fishing at crazy hours. He even went to Mecca last night and did an all-nighter on the north side. How did he do? He is still waiting for his first bump.

You know what this feels like? Like listening to Fred Schwab talk over the years about how the fishing was during moratorium.

Now hold on, am I saying that bass stocks collapsed?

Not all. I know there is a really good bite off the boats at Block Island for weeks now. Surf is not bad either. CT and in particular RI rock hoppers and eel slingers are catching some quality fish. Montauk south side has rats in the white water and big bluefish too. NJ jetty jocks had their shot at bunker blitzes but it was fast and furious and done quickly. I think much earlier than they anticipated or hoped. Cape Cod Canal rats, had their innings too. Again, I think 9 out of 10 will tell you, fast and furious and done. Boaters were reporting crap load of fish off the Race a month ago, rolling on the surface feasting, but that did not last long. And how about boats from NY/NJ that target bunker schools? All you had to do in previous years is snag the bunker and, two, three and there was your cow. They are catching but are finding “happy” bunker more often than chased bunker.

What does these anecdotal reports mean? Is the world coming to an end? Are the bass stock collapsing? Will we be forced to listen to Billy Joel music in perpetuity as a punishment? Will Kate get a breast reduction?

I don’t know, I am hoping that this is just a weird season. I will make this statement with no reservations. The “run” ,spring and fall one as we know them, they are shorter than they used to be. Much shorter. Few weeks in spring and if you get that much. Fall has been spotty at best. What about Montauk fall blitzes? Maybe if you started fishing in last few years you think ” that was a lot of fish” last year. But it used to be so many more. In every cove. And it lasted for weeks and weeks. Now you get three days. Done. Are the fish traveling in deeper water with bait? I have no idea. I do know they are not traveling where I fished for years and where they used to.

How about Bob?

You remember Bob right? Bob is a resident striped bass that I can catch at will for the past 15 years in little rips around Jones inlet. He is always there, sometimes he is at 8 pounds, sometimes twelve but if the tide and winds are right, I never had to worry about a skunk, more or less. Till last year when Bob disappeared.. And I tell you what, he is not back this year. Did someone eat Bob?

Do I really have to answer that?

So here is the gist of my post. I have not seen a fish with stripes in about three to four weeks. If I am correct neither did guys I fish with. Does it mean that fishing is on the decline? No. It only means we suck as surfcasters. Like I always tell my wife, nothing my kids do is ever their fault. If I thought them better, they would not make the mistake they made. On the end of the day, it’s all my fault.  You might want to try will drive your wife nuts.

Not catching fish is also my fault. Maybe I am too lazy to hit the beach at 3 am and then head to LIRR at 5. Maybe I should use plugs instead of jigs. Maybe I should chunk. Maybe I should drive to Montauk. Maybe, maybe, maybe

And yes, there is a good possibility that what we remember to be a “good spring run” is now just a memory, consisting of few good tides.

Like I said, I am not preaching. The point of a blog like this is for us to tell you about our experiences. Regardless how embarrassing they might be

What possesses me to peck at this keyboard, with this one index finger at 3 AM after yet another skunk?

A video from few nights ago where Bill Wetzel is driving home and he is reflecting on his night, season at Montauk , etc



11 comments on “Is The End near?

  1. Mrgepe

    You have been reading my mind! I’ve gone to the jersey shore after work and spent hours there, gotten up at 3am on a Saturday morning fished for a few hours and then gone to work. All this for a couple 20″ fish. Granted it was better than nothing but I threw bait and emptied my tackle bag .. On second thought I wasn’t cutting grass or doing house chores! Oh well, guess it wasn’t that bad.

  2. Richard aka Woodwker99

    Pssst ….Z….. I’ve been getting fish at the new/ old inlet. nothing big. But enough schoolie to mid teens. to keep me having fun. Also a 22″ weak from near the campgrounds. But hey That’s just me.

  3. Steve S.

    Same story for me too. Caught quality fish from early May to mid-June and nothing since. Similar story the past two years as well. Ten years ago, I could catch schoolies, bluefish and the occasional keeper all summer and now I just sleep-in on the weekend. The only fishing entertainment now is to try for porgies and hope that things turn around in Sepetmber.

  4. harv

    as u know i fish from a boat and mostly for tuna..this year the stripers moved from where we had them last yr and there were hundreds and hundreds of fish on herring and sand eels for a month straight. they are still there and now feeding on squid. it sucks that ur spots are not hot this year…thats always a drag esp when u have to get up at 2am no matter where u fish.

  5. Scott Smith

    Z, I couldn’t agree more. I think we are at the doorstep of another collapse and its sad. We cannot seem to learn from our past. I’ve fished from NJ to Maine this year and it has sucked. Just some for food for thought that blows my mind every year when I read it. From a MA DNR website: ” Following a 15% quota overage in 2012, the Massachusetts commercial striped bass fishery will operate under a reduced quota of 997,869 pounds in 2013″. A reduced quota? And the minimum length for commercial there is 34″. What would a million lbs. of bass mean to us? If you can handle an argument or two, support making Striped Bass a gamefish.

  6. bill martin

    hey z fished 30 hrs the last 2 weekends on ibsp. had some kids with me so I didn’t care what it caught just wanted them to catch something even junk fish.well the total for 30 hrs was 1 sand shark 2 skates and one ray. I tried everything. fished for kings, blowfish, spot, flounder, ect . could sandy have something to do with this years slow results ?

  7. Bruce may

    I can relate to this Z
    very strange year
    I have to move around a lot more and change things up
    Luck has a lot to do with being where the fish are at the time they are there to eat.

  8. rbertoli

    My usual spring pattern seemed to workout this year. Myself and others who fish the area had decent fishing right up to the full moon in June, then the heat wave drove the bass off the beach. I will say that the absence of cocktail bluefish in this same area is unusual.

  9. Steve K.

    Down Turn

    Of course we are in a down turn. In fact, we are two years later than expected for this ‘fall off’. No way in hell can we continue to take all these breeders out of the pool and expect good fishing to continue. It’s sad, really. We’ve been through this before, and yet the greedy bastards (us) will continue to fish for the moment and not the future. Maybe in 10 years or so it will come back again. Pfft.


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